Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


Educators See Advantages of Structured Recess for Students: Organized recess improves students' participation, behavior, and focus in the classroom, according to a nationwide survey conducted by California nonprofit Playworks. The structured playtime involves organized activities that promote nonviolent themes, such as games of tag that involve tapping fingers rather than slapping. Educators in Philadelphia, where 83 schools have structured recess, say the Playworks program gives students a positive outlet for excess energy.

Schools Vary in Approaches to Healthy Meals: California school districts approach healthy lunches for students in different ways, depending on the cost of the program, income levels, and foods common to the culture, according to this article. Orinda Intermediate School offers organic vegetables, jasmine rice, and Jamba Juice for its students with sophisticated palates, while West Oakland Middle School is working to use less meat, more whole grains, and scratch cooking but has seen some resistance from students.

San Francisco Schools Make It Easier for Students to Grab Breakfast: Schools in San Francisco are using a federal grant to expand "grab-and-go" breakfast programs that allow students to quickly pick up healthy foods, including fruit and cereal, as they head to class. Data found that many California children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, but few take advantage of breakfast because the meals are served in the cafeteria and the students are often short on time.


Becoming A Man (B.A.M.): Youth Guidance's Becoming a Man program, or B.A.M., which is currently offered at Roberto Clemente High School in Chicago, Ill., is an evidence-based violence prevention and mentoring program that nurtures and develops social, emotional, and behavioral skills in young male students considered to be "at-risk" and vulnerable to gang violence. Watch a video about B.A.M. to learn more about the educational enrichment the program provides.

Health and Nutrition Teacher Resources: View up to five free lesson plans and classroom activities that teach a variety of health and nutrition topics for K–12 students, available in printer-friendly formats at Many lessons are designed to be integrated into core subjects and engage learners.

Take Action

Vote for the Best Healthy School Lunch Recipes: A website lets users vote through May 15, 2011, for the best school lunch recipes from the USDA's Healthy Kids competition. Schools, chefs, and students were challenged to come up with healthy recipes that meet nutrition standards in the categories of whole grains, dry beans and peas, and dark green and orange vegetables.

Let's Move in School's National Physical Education and Sport Week: Register your school to host a Let's Move in School (LMIS) celebration during National Physical Education and Sport Week (May 1–7). Schools that register by March 28, 2011, will have a chance to win a visit from a member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. The first 10,000 schools to register will receive a LMIS poster.

Healthy School Communities is a worldwide ASCD effort to promote the integration of health and learning and the benefits of school-community collaboration. It is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a narrow, curriculum-centric and accountability system focus to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes. Visit the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge and share everything from ideas and solutions to common concerns.

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